Commercialize? No. Participate? Yes.

If you are doing anything in interactive marketing, you should be reading Rohit's blog. His position at Ogilvy gives him a lot of insight into how the role of PR and marketing is changing as digital media changes.

The other day, the terms he used for the role of brands in social media really struck me.

Participate

Commericalize

At the end of the day, brands all want the same thing...   influence, attention, sales... whatever.   This is capitalism and we are all aware that all the free stuff on the web comes at some kind of price. 

But how we encounter those brands can vary dramatically.

"Participating in a conversation" is a very human thing... and for a brand to do it, they need to act more human.  This includes sharing, mutual respect, openness... all sorts of things we come to expect by the actual people around us.  If brands can't do this, it is unlikely we are going to sacrifice any attention that we normally give to our friends in social media.

Every brand manager out there should take out a piece of paper and write down three ways that their brand "participates in a conversation".  If they can't think of any, they should talk to people like Rohit, because they're probably commercializing.